February 20, 2011 at 5:52 PM
I hate the word weak, especially when it comes to discussing people and character. I hate it when people are called weak, because of the things they do or the decisions they make. Often weakness has nothing to do with the personal choices we make, like letting things go and giving up. It takes a great deal strength to let go of things. Hence the quote in the title. It´s one of my personal favorites.
Last Friday I let go. I have been playing De Bériot 9th concerto since November. It´s been a fun piece to study but I´ve never been able to truly "get it". And I have been working hard, very hard to get it right. After playing for my teacher in my lesson and it sounded like an absolute train wreck. I felt so bad after I had played it, there were so many things that were just so wrong. It seemed that all my hard work had been for nothing. I was in a mild shock afterwards. After having my teacher pointing all the things I needed to fix and looking pretty ruffled I gave up. I told him:"Shouldn´t I just skip this piece and work on Tchaikovsky Canzonetta instead". I told him I had felt more secure with Tchaikovsky and I had gotten better into that piece that into De Bériot. When playing Bériot I was always worried about messing up and couldn´t enjoy playing it. With Tchaikovsky I really got into the piece.
My teacher told me it was my decision to make but he agreed with me that I had been more secure when playing Tchaikovsky and I had already performed it two times and performed it during a masterclass. I made the decision there and then. It simply seemed right to let go of Bériot and I did. I hid the sheetmusic in my bag and dug out Tchaikovsky instead.
And to be honest, I´m glad I let go of Bériot. Some would definitely call it giving up and that I wasn´t pushing myself enough but the truth is I´m pushing myself a lot. Juggling music conservatory, youth orchestra, friends, mentoring, full time university studies I got my hands full. I learned Tchaikovsky in less than two months and got it up to a satisfactory level. I love Tchaikovsky and I play it well. So I´m letting go of Bériot in order to explore Tchaikovsky more deeply and perform it to a higher standard than I did before.
And this is the message of the day
Well I'm actually the opposite... I always take peices that, at first are way over my head and am willing to work the necessary time to "have them". And I want them to sound resonably well, not just typically "studently" so this adds much time. Once, I have worked 2 years on something (along with my other violin studies, scales etc to not become crazy...) And later on when I'll have time and more experience, I want to take a few of my favorite really challenging peices and work years on them to suceed. Per example, I really want to play Devil Trill one day... but it's not that accessible to normal players... so I would be willing to work on it little bits at the time even though it takes many years. This is not because I can't let go, it's because I have that dream of becoming a pro musician that can't become true considering my context and normal talent. For me that's the closest of "professional" playing I can reach. (My strategy: using time unstead of talent and choosing a very narrow repertoire)
But I respect your philosophy too! It's heard to stick with a peice that makes you suffer for a really long time before beeing able to play it well but it's also hard to let go and accept to live without regrets, opinions of others etc. Both option take strengh!
I agree with you. I so badly wanted to play the Schindler's List theme tune when I was younger, and my teacher tried to teach it for me. But as hard as I tried, I just couldn't seem to get it, I couldn't play it like I heard it on the radio, I didn't have the right technical advancement to actually go further with the piece in order to make it sound... well, like a piece. Yes, I could play the notes, but where was the feeling. Why weren't the notes coming out the right way?
So, it took a lot for me to be able to make the decision of putting it away. A couple of years later, with more experience, I decided to have another go. And I have it. I love it. It is one of my favourite pieces to play even now. Sometimes it just takes putting something away and coming back later on. Just because you had to drop it, doesn't mean you can't pick it back up again in the future. :)
Don't look at it as giving up. Instead, look at is as pushing yourself beyond your limits, learning from the experience and applying what you learned to what is within your limits. Now that you know what you need to learn to play that piece well, you can do so at your own pace, so that playing violin remains enjoyable.
I have a few pieces under my belt that fall within that category. I look forward to revisiting them some day after getting some techniques under my belt.
It may feel like you're giving up now, but that piece will not vanish into thin air. You can always do other stuff, then come back to it later.
To me the real question is, "do you love that piece?" If so, you may find yourself revisiting it every so often. If not, spend your time on other things you truly love.
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